Patents are intended to promote and reward advances in technology, but they can also be a nuisance to both startups and established companies if the patent owner uses the threat of burdensome litigation to coerce companies into paying licensing fees. The case of Shipping & Transit LLC v. Hall Enterprises, Inc., demonstrates how a patent owner can generate considerable revenue using this strategy, yet be called to task for doing so.
Shipping & Transit sued Hall Enterprises for infringement of Shipping & Transit’s U.S. Patent Nos. 6,415,207, 6,763,299, and 6,904,359, which all relate to the monitoring and reporting of the location of a vehicle that is headed toward a series of destinations. The broadest of the claims that Shipping & Transit accused Hall of infringing recites the method of storing the locations of the destinations; monitoring the location of the vehicle relative to each destination; and selecting a second destination as the vehicle approaches the first destination, determining how long it will take the vehicle to reach the second destination, and notifying a party at the second destination of the expected arrival time. The trial court evaluated each step against the legal standards for patent-eligible subject matter, and the court found them all to be abstract ideas, i.e.,...
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